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"INWarD 2020 Game - Last Attack of the Arkansas" Topic

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boggler06 Aug 2020 1:26 p.m. PST


I played out the scenario I devised for INWarD 2020 today, with the CSS Arkansas running the gauntlet of the USS Essex at Baton Rouge, exactly one hundred and fifty eight years ago today.

In Turn One, the Arkansas and Essex ploughed toward each other at full steam ahead, with the Arkansas turning to adopt a parallel course in the last action phase. I decided not to roll for breakdowns in the first turn as I thought it might screw up the game if the Arkansas conked out right at the start, which is what actually happened but doesn't make for a great INWarD 2020 game report!

In Turn Two the breakdown rule came into effect but neither side rolled a 6, so it was straight to the action phase, with Essex moving and opening fire first, albeit with a miss from her forward guns at long range. The Arkansas then replied but also missed, leaving the Essex to turn to starboard and fire her port battery at the speeding Confederate ironclad target, missing once again by a wide margin.

The next two action phases alternated between the two protagonists, with both vessels turning to bring their guns to bear, all the time bringing the range even closer. In the last action phase, the Arkansas was able to fire her port battery at the Essex but, in the process rolled a 'Special Event' which turned out to be a burst gun, reducing her Gunnery Factor by 1. Nonetheless, the broadside achieved it's goal by inflicting light hull damage and a -1 to the Essex's Defence Factor, knocking it down from 4 to 3.

In Turn Three, no breakdowns occurred, so the action continued at a pace with the Arkansas within striking distance of the finish line. The Essex moved first and the fired her port battery at the Arkansas as she passed within 3'' of the enemy. Unfortunately, she also rolled a 'Special Event', this time a gunpowder explosion, which gave her a 1 to her Gunnery Factor in the next action phase. To makes things worse, her broadside only inflicted 'Harassing Fire' in the process.

The Arkansas immediately retaliated as her port battery was still in arc even thought she had steamed ahead at full speed. Perhaps the relative speed put her gun crews aim off mark or they had been stunned by the close range bombardment in the previous phase, but they completely missed despite being only 3'' from the target. The rest of the turn saw the Arkansas speed onward, while the Essex tried to go around to bring her forward guns to bear.

In Turn Four, it was all or nothing for the Essex, as the Arkansas hammered on toward the end of the table and escape. The breakdown roll caused some initial panic, as the Essex rolled a 6 indicating a potential mechanical problem, but scraped it back by passing the follow on 2D6 test with a roll of 5. The Essex had by now manoeuvred so that her forward guns could fire on the Arkansas, causing light damage but with a Critical Hit, which resulted in heavy damage to the hull and a -1 to her DF.

A quick starboard turn then brought the Essex port battery into action, with a final broadside at the Arkansas as she steamed downstream and ever close to the edge of the table. This last long range blast failed to hit, leaving the Arkansas free to do a double move in the last two action phases, crossing the scenario finishing line to fight another day. In the post game analysis this was a draw, as the Essex had failed to destroy the Arkansas allowing her to escape with heavy hull damage and a burst gun, while the Essex only suffered light hull damage and a gunpowder explosion, leaving her fully operational.

It was a fun game but I think next time the Arkansas will have a higher chance of breakdown, perhaps a D6 roll of 5-6 rather than just a 6, in order to give the larger, more cumbersome Essex a chance to stop her? I really like the fast play aspect of Dahlgren and Columbiad, with each turn bouncing along at a good pace and with minimal reference to the rules, only the quick reference sheet being required in play. I played the last half of the game with my thirteen year old daughter and she picked it up in no time.


Prince Rupert of the Rhine06 Aug 2020 10:39 p.m. PST

Nice report Jim. By some weird coincidence I found a box with all my old Wargames Illustrated, from the 90s, the other day and was reading an article in one on the short history of the Arkansas with my morning coffee.

Personal logo David Manley Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2020 2:49 a.m. PST

@Rupert, was that the one I wrote?

Jim – an excellent report, I'm glad you enjoyed the game!

boggler07 Aug 2020 3:16 a.m. PST

Cheers Jon,

What a coincidence…great minds thinking alike and all that?


boggler07 Aug 2020 3:17 a.m. PST

Thanks David :O)

Looking forward to INWarD 2021…perhaps even with some models!

Prince Rupert of the Rhine07 Aug 2020 3:27 a.m. PST

David@ yes it was yours. Issue 147 Dec 1999 " A Forest of Masts and Smokestacks" a very interesting little article that went down very well with my early morning coffee.

Dawnguard6416 Aug 2020 10:40 p.m. PST

What scale are the cutouts? They look 1/1200.

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